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Anti-glib: Knowing what you’re talking about

Glibness is a disease that's particularly virulent in Silicon Valley, politics, entertainment and the executive suite. Someone has an insight (or gets lucky) and then amasses power. Surrounded by more than they're willing to understand, they substitute the glib statement, the smirk, the cutting remark. They turn everything into a status-fueled professional wrestling match.

It's usually done out of fear, and, ironically, the fear-induced glib approach merely makes things worse, creating even more fear.

The alternative is to know what you're talking about.

To have done the reading. [I've seen this problem in boardrooms, examination rooms and classrooms across the planet].

To be able to hold conflicting ideas in your head as you consider options.

To know and respect the people who have earned a place at the table of ideas.

To have energetic engagements with people who are more experienced, wiser and more connected than you are.

To admit that you were wrong, because you didn't know what you know now, and then to chart a new path.

To ignore sunk costs when making new decisions.

The fans of professional wrestling (in all its forms) are entertained by the glib, because it releases them from the obligation to understand metaphor, to look more deeply, to engage with a logical argument.

Everyone else would rather work with people who know what they're talking about, who respect those they work with and most of all, who seek useful outcomes, not just the comfort of a short-term win.

[More here and here]

You’ve arrived

It's easy to fall in love with the GPS version of the universe.

There, just ahead, after that curve. Drive a little further, your destination is almost here.

Done. You've arrived.

Of course, that's not how it works. Not our careers, not our relationships, not our lives.

You've always arrived. You've never arrived.

Wherever you go, there you are. You're never going to arrive because you're already there.

There's no division between the painful going and the joyous arriving. If we let it, the going can be the joyful part.

It turns out that arrival isn't the point, it can't be, because we spend all our time on the journey.

“My side, right or wrong”

The alternative is, "My side is wrong this time, but we can learn a lot, fix it, and do it better next time."

Which path gets us (however you want to define 'us') closer to what we seek?

Which leads to better standards, desired outcomes and work we're proud of?

Which leads to leaders we can eagerly follow?

Tribal identity is an emotional reaction to a complicated world. But when tribal identity aligns itself with a downward spiral of selfish, poorly considered actions, it leads to suffering, not connection.

Not us vs. them. Sooner or later, it's us.

We can do better. Let's do better.

Ocellate

It means "eye-like" as in the spot on a stingray that makes it appear to be looking at you.

As far as I know, there are no words for nose-like or even ear-like.

We're hardwired to be aware of eyes. We want to be seen, we're afraid to be seen, we need to be seen.

The very best way to engage with your customers is for your organization to develop some more eyes. And the empathy to use them. Not to spy on us, but to see us, understand us and treat us the way we want to be treated—like people.

He deserves it, but do you?

He's a jerk, a two-timer, a double-crosser. He deserves everything you throw at him, your cutting remarks, your sarcasm, your enmity.

You're totally justified in spending a lot of time and energy in evening the score. You are the avenger.

The thing is, it's not clear that we benefit from carrying around all that vitriol. All the time we spend hating is time that we've given away to someone who hasn't earned our time. It's time we're being controlled by someone we don't like or respect very much.

Teaching someone a lesson is often overrated. Doing the lesson teaching in your head helps no one.

What happens if we walk away and make something magical instead?

You deserve it.

Sham surgery

The data shows that more than 600,000 people got arthroscopic knee surgery in the US in 2010. It's expensive and painful.

It turns out that sham surgery works just as well. That just about as many people would have found pain relief from this procedure if they had experienced fake surgery instead.

In an extensive study of elective surgeries (asthma, obesity, Parkinson’s disease, acid reflux and back pain) it was found that more than half the time, people would have had at least a good an outcome if they had only experienced fake surgery instead of the real kind.

That's worth a pause.

Same operating room, same gowns, same perception of pain–but no actual surgery. Half the people would have gotten better, which is awfully close to the number that got better from the real thing. 

(Even if this number is twice as high as you are comfortable with, it tells us something dramatic about the power of suggestion).

If you don't think marketing works, and you're wondering about the power of the placebo, that's all the evidence you should need. That sham surgery on knee pain is virtually as effective as the real kind. Which means it's not a sham at all, is it?

Of course, placebos work on far more than knees. They work on the taste of wine, the effectiveness of coaching and how well we perform at work.

When they say "it's all in your head," they're actually being optimistic and encouraging. If it's in your head, you can do something about it. 

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Last call for The Marketing Seminar, summer edition

We teach modern marketing. 

Marketing that doesn't involve spam or tricks or hype. Marketing that sees a world bigger than you currently serve, and a market small enough to actually care about what you make. And marketing that isn't defined by spending all day in social media, pitching average stuff to the masses.

The sprint is on, and we're hoping you can consider enrolling in the only currently scheduled session of the Seminar. If you were waiting, today's the day.

Find out more here. And see the curriculum as well as honest feedback from our students. We've just started our session, and since we're now three lessons in, it's only open for signups for a few more days.

I hope you can join us.

Cultural density

In your organization, how many decisions and interactions are driven by culture first?

While it's possible to imagine an organization that has no culture, one that is merely a context-free meritocracy and game-theory driven machine, that's unlikely.

The higher your cultural density, the more important it is that you get it right.

Be the different one

Leonard Nimoy created one of our culture's singular fictional characters. Gene Roddenberry gave him the opportunity, but it was Nimoy who developed Spock.

A key moment came in one of the first episodes. Everyone on the bridge was freaking out about something or other, and Spock's line was a simple word: "Fascinating."

Nimoy first delivered it in the same excited, scared tone as everyone else.

The director took him aside and said, "be the different one."

Easy to say, difficult to do.

By being the different one, Spock became a character for the ages, and changed the center of gravity for the series' narrative.

The same thing could be said for your career, or the impact your organization makes.

 

[PS James Hunt just built a very generous site, one that catalogs nearly 250 books written or recommended by me over the last decade.]

Instead of the easy numbers…

What is it that you hope to accomplish? Not what you hope to measure as a result of this social media strategy/launch, but to actually change, create or build? 

An easy but inaccurate measurement will only distract you. It might be easy to calibrate, arbitrary and do-able, but is that the purpose of your work?
 
I know that there's a long history of a certain metric being a stand-in for what you really want, but perhaps that metric, even though it's tried, might not be true. Perhaps those clicks, views, likes and grps are only there because they're easy, not relevant.
 
If you and your team can agree on the goal, the real goal, they might be able to help you with the journey…
 
System innovations almost always involve rejecting the standard metrics as a first step in making a difference. When you measure the same metrics, you're likely to create the same outcomes. But if you can see past the metrics to the results, it's possible to change the status quo.

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